As we arrived in Kuala Lumpur we had that familiar feeling we have grown to love from travelling to new places: excitement, tiredness, and an array of self-fabricated expectations of what it will be like. It’s these feelings every time we visit a new place that keep us hooked and coming back for more time and time again.
Kuala Lumpur (I will refer to it as “KL” from now on) is nothing like any other “Big City” that we’ve been to, mostly because of it’s sheer diversity; One minute you’re looking through windows of high end luxury shops where the cheapest item is probably still way beyond your financial reach, and then just a short stroll down the road (or in some cases immediately opposite) you’ll be engulfed by a local flee market buzzing with energy, surrounded by counterfeit wallets, shoes and bags. The smell of curry and fried foods fills the streets and sets your senses on fire and the familiar sound synonymous of almost all third world markets, of the local traders practicing their best English, and trying in vein to get you to chose their stall over the other hundred that surround you (all of which sell pretty much exactly the same things).
But KL is not all about shopping; there are an abundance of sights to see in this amazing city as well. You can book on to one of the daily guided tours of the tallest twin towers in the world (The Petronas Towers) where you will see the city from above in all it’s glory. Unfortunately we missed our chance to do this so instead chose to stand in it’s enormous shadow at it’s base, look up and watch as the shiny metal clad building glistened in the beaming sunshine.
For the nature lovers out there KL houses the worlds largest in flight aviary full of tropical birds from around the world. Walking through this doesn’t feel like you’re actually in an enclosed environment as the birds have a whole section of real rainforest to fly around in but still allow you to get up quite close. The city also has an abundance of open spaces and parks, from Central Park at the foot of the Petronas towers where you can watch one of the daily water and light shows at the main fountain, to the huge botanical gardens where you will also find the bird park as well as a butterfly park.
One of the great things about KL is it’s a huge city that is plonked right in the middle of what is essentially rainforest, so you never have to go too far to feel like you’re away from the bright lights of the capital and there are hundreds of excursions and trips you can do to rural areas. We drove around 40mins out of town and visited the Batu Caves. This is an ancient site where you will find a traditional Hindu temple hidden inside a cave that burrows into the side of a mountain. Sounds awesome right? Well, it was a little disappointing to be honest. The local mischievous monkeys make the trip very entertaining, and it’s great to see this traditional Holy place that clearly has huge significance to allot of people, but you can’t help but feel that if it meant so much to them they would invest a little time and money into some trash cans and maybe clean up occasionally. Unfortunately what I’m sure was once a very serine and beautiful place has suffered the scars of tourism and it’s no longer possible to enjoy the natural wonder of the caves without noticing the piles of discarded soft drink bottles and sweet wrappers. That being said, the taxi ride (as are all taxi rides here) was extremely cheap and the entrance fee was minimal, so we still think it was worth a visit!
So, we’ve touched on shopping, local markets, landmarks, day trips……….what else………..Ah Yes, FOOD!!!
Food is something that we are both very passionate about and we love eating local cuisine wherever we travel, so we were very excited to get involved with some of the traditional Malaysian dishes like Nasi Lemak, Nasi Goreng and Laksa Curry. The best thing about most Asian countries is that usually you find the best local food in the cheapest places! A typical dish will cost the equivalent to £3-£5 and is one of the most flavor packed cuisines that we’ve eaten. Malaysian food is like the bridge between fragrant and sweet Thai/Vietnamese/Chinese food and the thick, rich flavours of India and the Middle East; what more could you ask for right?
On top of that you can get some amazing Western food here too! We spent New Years Eve in a very popular restaurant in the center of KL called “Twenty One”. Now first of all I will be honest and say that the owner of this restaurant is the father of a very good friend of ours, and she is actually the manager here, but I can assure you when it comes to food I am very honest and completely non-bias, so when I tell you that the steak that I ate here was actually the best I have ever eaten in my 29 years on this planet, and that I actually went into the kitchen to shake hands with the Chef who cooked it, you know I’m being completely straight with you. As well as the 5* Food, you can also expect 5* Service, and if you’re in the mood for a boogie when you’ve finished your meal head upstairs to the Bar/Nightclub and dance the night away!
The following day was recovery day, and what better way to start the day than a Breakfast Buffet at the Grand Hyatt. For roughly £20-£30 per head you get access to the all you can eat buffet, as well as the chefs who will cook on demand any extras you may wish to add. Not only that but you get to enjoy this wonderful food whilst sitting at a table looking out at a panoramic view of the Klang Valley as the Sun pokes it’s head over the mountains on the horizon and wishes you a good morning, It was perfect in every way!
So that sums up our trip to KL! There is so much more I could talk about but I’m afraid I would need to write an entire book, so hopefully my synopsis of this colourful and interesting city has been enough to enlighten you a little about all the things you can experience here.
Now there is only one thing left to do……………….BOOK THAT FLIGHT!
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